The Philodendron Speciosum is a rare and expensive plant that features huge, green leaves which can reach between 4-6 feet in size.
From my recollection its leaves are larger than those of the Philodendron giganteum. In fact, their size closely matches up with those of the Philodendron bipinnatiffidum.
As the Philodendron Speciosum matures, you’ll also notice it develop a large trunk.
This philodendron plant is also known as the Thaumatophyllum Speciosum or the Arrowhead Philodendron.
It is native to South America, specifically Brazil and Bolivia.
How do you care for the Philodendron Speciosum? Keep the plant in medium to bright indirect or filtered light. Avoid too much direct sunlight.
It is a warm weather plant that likes humid conditions. Wait until the soil has partially dried between waterings to avoid overwatering and root rot. Use well-draining soil.
Philodendron Speciosum Plant Care
The Philodendron Speciosum can grow indoors and outdoors. In both locations, it is important that the plant gets sufficient amount of light to support its growth.
That’s because light is the raw material that plants use for photosynthesis.
And photosynthesis is the process where the plant turns light into food (sugars). These sugars are what it consumes or uses up to create energy to develop new shoots, push out leaves and grow bigger.
Therefore, lack of light will mean you end up with a slower grow plant that will likely be smaller, have fewer leaves that won’t grow to their optimal sizes.
This is why if you want the Philodendron Speciosum to grow to become impressive, it needs bright, indirect or filtered light indoors.
Outdoors, keep it under partial shade.
Try to avoid low light even if the plant will survive in this condition. This less light it gets, the less growth it will be able to achieve.
On the other hand, avoid excess exposure to very strong or intense light as well. This includes direct sunlight as well as full sun.
This means that indoors, it is best to keep the plant near a window but away from the sun’s rays. Make sure that at no time in the day does the sun’s rays hit the plant.
The Philodendron Speciosum will grow to a good sized plant with huge leaves. But in the tropical forests of South America the trees it lives with are huge easily reaching 40-60 feet and higher.
Thus, the plant lives under the shade of these trees.
So, while the tropics do get a lot of sun, the plant gets the benefit of the shade of the branches and leaves of larger plants and leaves.
As such, it is accustomed to this and not used to long hours of exposure to the very harsh rays of the sun.
At best, it can take 1-3 hours of this kind of light daily.
But any more, you’ll see leaf discoloration or even scorching and burn marks on its lovely foliage.
The Philodendron Speciosum is used to warm weather conditions. Again, this has to do with its native habitat.
Its ideal temperature is between 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
And it can tolerate hotter environments as well.
The reason why it enjoys moderate to warm conditions has to do with the shade it gets from the larger trees.
This makes it ideal for growing indoors in homes since most homes have moderate to slightly warm temperatures as well.
That said, one of the most important things to know about the Philodendron Speciosum is that is a tender plant.
As such, it cannot tolerate the cold and is not frost hardy.
This is why it likes the outdoors in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11. In these regions, it is able to stay outdoors in the sunny and moderate to warm temperatures.
There are no winters in these regions.
But if you live anywhere colder where there is frost or freezing temperature, the plant is best kept indoors as a houseplant.
It has problems with temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
So, try to avoid cold conditions like this as it will affect the plant’s growth and health.
Once things get below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll see its growth slow and the plant struggle. And the longer it stays there or the colder it gets, the more likely the leaves will turn yellow.
After a while, leaves will drop as well.
By the time you get down to 35 or so degrees Fahrenheit, the plant will start suffering from cold injury and damage.
The Philodendron Speciosum thrives in high humidity. This the climate that the tropics has where humidity tends to run between 60% to 75% on an average day.
As such, the plant likes humidity around 60% and higher.
If you can maintain this, it will reward you with faster grow, larger leaves and more foliage. It will also have better colors as well.
The good news is that it can tolerate low humidity too.
This makes it much easier to grow indoors.
But keep in mind that it can tolerate only up to a certain degree.
I suggest to keep humidity at 40% and higher as much as possible to play it safe. Although, my experience is that the plant will have no problem with most room humidity as long as it stays in the mid to upper 30s.
That said, the lower the humidity the more likely the plant can have moisture issues.
Therefore, if you have dry air in your home, make sure to monitor the plant for a few weeks or a month to see how it adapts.
The key thing to lookout for here is its leaves.
If the leaf edges and tips turn crispy, brown or dry, it means that the plant needs more humidity. But if the plant stays healthy and the leaves maintain good color then it is adjusting well.
Keep in mind that these issues can also happen when you first bring the plant home.
That’s because some sellers or shops will grow their plants in greenhouses. As such, the humidity the Philodendron Speciosum will be used to is high.
So, even if you have sufficient humidity at home, the plant will still need to get acclimated.
Therefore, always ask the shop about this when buying and they’ll tell you what to do just in case.
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How Often to Water Philodendron Speciosum
The Philodendron Speciosum has average to low water needs. What this means its that it likes moist soil and will be happy with being watered around once every 7 to 10 days.
At the same time, it can tolerate some periods of dryness.
However, the two things you want to avoid are wet soil and allowing the entire root ball to go dry.
The plant hates both. And it will react appropriately.
Of the two, you want to be more careful with overwatering.
That’s because the Philodendron Speciosum can bounce back from underwatering faster. And as long as you don’t let it regularly happen and you don’t leave the plant bone dry for weeks or longer at a time, it will be fine.
On the other hand, overwatering can be very damaging.
That’s because it not only causes soft, yellow leaves that are mushy, it also increases the risk of root rot as well as fungal infections.
Root rot is one of the most serious problems because once root die then rot, they’re gone.
That means a part of the root system is not functioning anymore.
And since the roots are what absorb water and nutrients from the soil, fewer roots mean less hydration and nutrients for the plant.
This will result in a weaker plant.
Also, as long as the plant stays in the overwatered state, more and more roots will eventually rot.
So, overwatering can eventually kill your plant if there are too few healthy roots left such that they cannot sustain the plant anymore.
Thus, avoid overwatering at all costs.
The best way to do this is to check the soil every time before you add water.
Always allow the soil to dry partially between waterings. Doing so will prevent drowning the roots in too much liquid.
I like to wait until the top half of the soil has dried before watering the plant.
Although, you can go as early as when the top 2 inches of soil have completely dried. But never before that.
Philodendron Speciosum Potting Soil
The Philodendron Speciosum prefers moist, well-draining soil that has good aeration. It will also grow the fastest in rich, organic soil with soil pH between 5.5 to 7.5.
For this reason, an aroid mix is ideal for this plant.
This ensures that the plant’s roots stay hydrated as the soil holds some (but not a lot of) water. At the same time it will drain excess liquid very quickly.
In doing so, the roots never end up swimming in lots of water.
In contrast, avoid heavy soils or those that are dense and get compacted. Soil that tends to stay wet is a no-no.
Keep in mind that in addition to your watering schedule, how much moisture the soil holds or drains will affect what happens to the roots.
If you find the perfect watering schedule and you wait until the top half of the soil dries between waterings, then you think you’re safe, right?
But if the soil retains a lot of moisture, a lot or almost all the water you just poured it is held by the soil.
This negates all your efforts since the roots still end up sitting in lots of liquid for long periods time.
So, make sure to choose the right soil in addition to optimizing your watering schedule.
The key here is to make sure that the soil mix you use has sufficient drainage since the Philodendron Speciosum does not like wet feet.
Besides an Aroid mix, you can also go with 100% sphagnum peat moss.
Alternatively, if you prefer to make your own DIY potting mix for the Philodendron Speciosum at home, here are a couple of simple recipes that work well.
- 1 part potting soil
- 1 part coco fiber (you can substitute this with peat moss)
Another minimalist potting soil mix you can go with is:
- 1 part potting soil
- 1 part orchid bark (or you can use coco chips in place of bark as well)
The Philodendron Speciosum will grow faster and bigger with fertilizer. Its leaves will also reach their full potential.
Although the plant will do okay without plant food, you’ll see a significant difference in the size and leaves between a fertilized and unfertilized plant after a year or so.
This is why I highly suggest feeding the plant.
Apply a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer once a month during spring and summer. Dilute the application by 50% each time to avoid overfertilizing.
Stop feeding by early to mid autumn.
You can also use a slow-release fertilizer instead of a liquid formulation.
These come in pellets. So, you’ll have to distribute them evenly across the soil.
The good thing about slow-release fertilizer is that pellets dissolve at different times. Therefore, there’s low risk of overfertilizing.
Additionally, you’ll only need to feed the plant about thrice a year.
The Philodendron Speciosum is a large plant with correspondingly huge leaves.
It can grow to reach 12 to 15 feet with proper care. As such, if you plant it in the garden, it is a good idea to space out the plants 2 to 3 feet to give the Philodendron Speciosum room to grow.
Indoors, the plant’s size is more manageable.
But you’ll still need to prune it to control its size.
Its trunk can easily get to 4 feet or so and its leaves can grow to between 4-5 feet large. So, as impressive as it looks, it will need a good amount of space.
This is why the Philodendron Speciosum is up there along with the Philodendron bipinnatiffidum and the Philodendron giganteum in terms of philodendron varieties with the largest foliage.
In fact, it has a larger leaves then the Giganteum and competes with the Philodendron bipinnatiffidum for that top spot.
This means that while you may not want to prune its impressive leaves, you may need to do so especially if you don’t have enough space to let it grow bigger indoors.
Pruning this plant really comes down to size control more than anything else sadly.
How to Propagate Philodendron Speciosum
Philodendron Speciosum propagation can be done in many different ways.
The most common ways are stem cuttings, air layering and division.
However, stem cuttings or stem propagation is by far the most popular propagation method. That’s because it is simple to do and fairly straightforward.
Additionally, it has a high success rate and you can propagate multiple stem cuttings at the same time.
On the other hand, if the plant has gotten too big, division is always an option.
Division involves splitting the larger mother plant into 2 or more smaller plants. The biggest advantage is you don’t need to wait for the new plants to root.
At the same time, you reduce the size of the parent if it has already outgrown the space you have at home.
Propagating Philodendron Speciosum from Stem Cuttings
The most important part of propagating the Philodendron Speciosum from stem cuttings is to take the right stem cuttings.
Always make sure that each cutting has at least 1-2 nodes on it. And ideally, it should have at least 1 or more leaves on it as well.
The node is non-negotiable.
That’s because if the cutting does not have a single node, it will never successfully propagate into a new plant.
Once you’ve selected the stems to propagate, here are the next steps:
- Sterilize a pair or pruning shears and cut the stem about a quarter inch or half inch below the node.
- Then plant the node into a pot filled with well-draining potting soil.
- Water the soil and keep it moist. Never let the soil stay wet.
- Also, keep the pot with the cutting in bright, indirect light.
It will usually take a month or so for the cutting to root.
In the meantime and after that, take care of the new plant like you would its parent.
How to Repot or Transplant Philodendron Speciosum
The Philodendron Speciosum will need repotting as it gets bigger. But it will take a while to grow in size.
As such, don’t be in a hurry to repot the plant.
It does not like being moved unnecessarily.
This means that you want to wait until the plant has outgrown its container before you repot. And you’ll know it is time to do so when it gets root bound.
Just check the bottom of the pot to see if roots are coming out from the drainage holes.
Once they do, it is a sign to move the plant to a larger container.
Similarly, if you see roots popping out from the surface of the soil, it means they want more space.
The best time to repot the plant is spring to early summer.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
The Philodendron Speciosum is toxic to people and pets because it contains calcium oxalate crystals. Every part of the plant is toxic including its leaves and stems.
Therefore, it is a good idea to keep the kids, cats and dogs away to avoid any accidental consumption.
Philodendron Speciosum Problems & Troubleshooting
The Philodendron Speciosum is not prone to pests. But it can experience attacks just like any other houseplants.
As such, you want to be on the lookout for aphids, thrips, scale, mealybugs and spider mites.
These are small bugs that feed on the plant’s sap for the most part. And they can grow into infestations very quickly.
So, it is important to immediately treat the plant once you see any pests even if you only spot 3 or 4 of them.
Overwatering is the biggest thing to watch out for because it leads to more problems.
The more serious of which is root rot.
Additionally, excess water also increases the risk of bacterial and fungal disease. These can occur in different parts including the roots and leaves.
As such, in addition to not watering the soil too frequently, try to avoid leaving the leaves wet.